BOSTON — A West Virginia man has been charged in relation to a scheme targeting potential buyers for the two paintings stolen in 1990 from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
According to the United States Attorney’s Office, Andrew Desper was acting under the pseudonym Mordokwan when he tried to sell the paintings on Craigslist in foreign cities including Venice and London.
Desper allegedly said he had possession of Storm on the Sea of Galilee and Vermeer’s The Great Concert, another painting stolen in the 1990 heist.
Investigators said Desper offered to send the stolen paintings hidden behind other artwork after receiving a cashier’s check for $5 million.
Prosecutors said during conversations with Desper, it was determined that he did not have access to the stolen paintings, but was instead trying to target foreign art buyers with a multi-million dollar fraud scheme.
Desper is charged with four counts of wire fraud and attempted wire fraud.
The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is offering a $10 million reward for anyone who has information leading to the return of 13 paintings stolen on March 8, 1990. The combined value of the stolen artwork is estimated at $500 million.
If convicted, Desper could face up to 20 years in prison and be forced to pay up to $250,000 in fines.
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